Find Your Higher Power and Stop Shopping!

Issue 253

Reverend Billy Talen Dec 15, 2019

Dear Billy,

I’ve given up booze. (Not for the first time.) It’s especially hard quitting the stuff during the holidays. I’ve been attending meetings. The thing that always trips me up is the higher power we’re supposed to put our faith in. I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in a higher power but I’m trying to keep an open mind. Do you have a higher power? You’re always shouting, ‘Earthalujah.’ Is that where it’s at? How do I get to that place?

— Raymond, Astoria

Raymond, we all have higher powers. It might be sex, or data, or lawsuits. You just don’t want booze to have power over you. OK. 

Your higher power is an actual relationship. She can be a mural of an angel on a corrugated warehouse door in Welling Court, Queens. The question is, do the two of you talk?  You should thank her for another 24 hours of sobriety, and you gotta believe that she’s alive as you’re saying this and listen to her reply. Be patient. Stand there. “Good job, 24 hours, did you enjoy it?” she asks. 

You see, even the rocks and sea-water and clouds are alive, vibrating with messages. All living beings are talking and listening. I walk in the trees at Prospect Park and talk to them and I listen to them. They are still getting over Sandy. I walk on the sand at Coney Island and talk to the gulls. Gulls are good talkers. We have very New York talks. They’re like shouting matches in a bodega.   

The Earth survived all those mass extinctions, re-inventing life each time. She’s survived all those extinctions and she can help us survive our alcoholism, opioids and Donald Trump. Earthalujah!


Dear Reverend,

I love my ex-husband but we seem to have different approaches to parenting. It’s especially clear around Christmas time but happens year-round. He makes more money than I do and is always buying our teenagers expensive gifts like video games and flashy clothes. Even if I could afford it, I wouldn’t buy my kids those things. My idea of a gift is a good book or a trip to a museum. When it’s my birthday, I ask my kids to recite me poems. They think I’m old fashioned but I don’t want them growing up brats. It’s hard enough combatting all the rampant commercialism out there without my former spouse buying into it. Is there anything you’d recommend I say to him to make him stop?

— Marianne, Montclair

Dear Marianne,

Put the emergency on your ex. As much as 60 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come directly from household consumption, with the U.S. population out gassing everyone else in the world. Your former hubby appears to be a big gas blast. 

Don’t be polite with him, Marianne. In your letter, you seem hesitant. He wants “expensive gifts like video games and flashy clothes” for the kids. Confront him with a “My love, your gifts are drowning us, burning us…” Mr. Ex might laugh at you. Spank him with organic sex toys until he pleads, “Yes, the Earth is my Mistress! I obey! I obey!”

This split family phenomenon, those for and those against the Earth, will be more common as we careen toward apocalypse. Many mothers and fathers will insist that holiday giving take the form of fossil fuel-based consumerism — our old American religion. As with police, advertisers, militarists and jurists, these people need deep deprogramming.

If Mr. Christmas is flying through the sky in a sleigh pulled by endangered species,  destroy the video games and flashy clothes in front of him with the kids watching. This would be the greatest gift of all, Marianne. Ms. Grinch says NO MORE! to the fossil-fuel Christmas!

— Happy Winter Solstice from Rev, & the Stop Shopping Choir

Reverend Billy & Savitri D’s Church of Stop Shopping perform at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater on Sunday afternoons until Dec. 22.

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